‘A story from the coffeeshop days that I miss’
It was 3:35 in the afternoon, at a busy Third Wave coffee shop, where jolly happy coffee lovers waited inline. Some smiling. Some -those serious espresso cravers- looked through their under-caffeinated eyes, trying to hide their impatience and pretending they are calm ‘too’ and ‘quite understanding’ of how the perfect shot of espresso needed to be, properly dosed, perfectly tamped and skilfully put through the machine that was making its familiar glorious clicking sound. They all waited, all watching the golden caramel shot of espresso pours through into the little espresso cup placed underneath.
One of the baristas behind the counter exchanges a welcoming gesture with the customers who were lining up. Her eyes suddenly stops at a new friendly face. A new customer in her early thirties. A face whom she has not seen at the shop before, and as she blurts a casual friendly comment ‘cool necklace’, and before she could bring her eyes back to watch the milk pitcher in her hand while frothing foam for the next drink, she catches a sudden shadowy dark glare in her new customer’s eyes, that she could not quickly ignore. She taps her milk pitcher on the counter a couple of times, to settle in the bubbles forming in the foam! She looks at the new customer again, only to find tears starting to form in those previously smiling eyes! Again, she feels she cannot just ignore what she had noticed and feels rather compelled to acknowledge it and make sure the new customer is feeling ok!
While trying to not have her voice heard to the the rest of the buzzing crowd, and taking advantage of her close proximity to the tearful face across her roaring espresso machine, she asks “is everything alright?”…A pause followed, and the woman -now facing her as she moved closer- responds “sorry! just a sad memory associated with my necklace!”.
At that point, the tears on the woman’s face were starting to come down. The woman looked embarrassed at her reaction, and the barista made a split second decision to desert her bar, ask another barista to take over and walked around the counter towards the woman and quietly gave her a hug! The woman, to more of her surprise, buried her face in her shoulder like one would do with an old friend, as if…to hide. They hugged quietly until the woman was able to compose herself and forced a smile. The barista feeling concerned but acting rather calm and encouraging, looked into the woman’s eyes and said “you ok?”. The woman nervously shrugged and said “thank you for saving me from sobbing in public!”. Then she pointed at her necklace and said quietly “this is a twin necklace to a one that my best friend was wearing when her and I were skiing over a year ago! There was an avalanche! She died! I survived!”. The barista trying to hide a horrified look, gave encouraging words “I am so sorry to hear that! Sorry about the sad reminder!”. The woman smiled sadly again and responded “I am a firefighter! ….I usually know how to stay composed :)! However, thank you for letting me grief without making a fool of myself! That thankfully does not happen often. I don’t easily break down and cry!”.
Form that day on, Jen who became a regular, would come regularly, order her latte and smile at the barista behind the counter! And a new friendship started.
“I used to be the owner of that little coffeeshop…’True Story’.”